Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT
On Sunday, The Washington Post reported that Christine Blasey Ford wrote a letter this summer to her congresswoman stating that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were both high school students. Ford shared her story with the Post:
Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.
While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.
Right-wing media responded to Ford’s story with a mixture of dismissal and disdain. Some conservative pundits questioned whether she ought to be believed, and others contended that the assault -- even if it did occur -- was irrelevant to whether Kavanaugh should serve on the Supreme Court.
Laura Ingraham’s response, however, was particularly vile. The Fox host informed her radio show listeners on Monday that Ford’s story made her want to “throw up” because she was disturbed by the “rank unfairness” to Kavanaugh. She launched repeated and vicious attacks against Ford, suggested contacting Ford's "former boyfriends," attempted to spin the accusations into evidence of society’s unfair treatment of men, and claimed that Democrats had planned the timing of the accusations. Here are some of her most repugnant responses:
1. Ingraham suggested that a history of sexual assault is not relevant to a judge serving on the Supreme Court (where major decisions about women's lives and rights are made), asking, “How is it relevant to whether he is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court?”
2. She compared the current situation to law professor Anita Hill’s accusations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, claiming that Democrats “wanted this to come out right before the vote ... just like they did with Justice Thomas. They had to wait until the last minute ... They wanted this to derail his nomination.”
3. She tried to reframe Ford’s story and make it about men, telling listeners: “This could happen to any of you -- let's focus on men for a moment -- any of your sons, any of your brothers, any of your uncles.” Ingraham further argued that the story demonstrates that it’s a “very precarious place to be as a man today -- very, at every level. It's so unfair.”
4. Ingraham tweeted out “10 Reasons to Question the Veracity of Kavanaugh's Accuser.”
5. She viciously lashed out at Ford for not speaking publicly about her story in the past, telling listeners, “Apparently, this accuser was fine with leaving Brett Kavanaugh on the second highest court of the land. She had repressed her memory supposedly until 2012, but was OK with leaving him with three law clerks, interns, all the other women who work at the court, the second highest court of the land. That was OK. That was all right.”
6. She dismissed Ford as “a partisan,” and claimed Ford’s coming forward with her story is “an unfair process -- it’s unfair to him, his family, and, frankly, to this nation.”
8. She hosted two Kavanaugh backers who signed a letter of support for him and asked what Ford’s “reputation” had been in high school. She then suggested that Ford’s “former boyfriends” should be contacted.
9. Ingraham tweeted a link to a website run by a conspiracy theorist to suggest that Ford might have a grudge against Kavanaugh because of a 1996 court case that Kavanaugh’s mother presided over involving Ford’s parents.
Ingraham has a long and disturbing history of minimizing sexual harassment and assault, and of blaming and shaming survivors. She often chooses to focus her coverage of sexual misconduct on perceived inconvenience for men, rather than the consequences for women. Her responses to Ford’s story, though not surprising given her history, are immensely reprehensible and dangerous, and they directly contribute to why survivors don’t come forward.